Comparison of Color Themes Essay


Color is an element of art. It is produced by light effect. When light rays fall on an object, it gets reflected back to the eye. This reflection is the color of that particular object. Color has got different properties, these include;

  • Hue- This means the name given to a particular color. Basically, all hues can be mixed from the three primary colors which are red, yellow and blue. Colors can be mixed to form complements. The complements produce various effects on surfaces. In painting color is used to exhibit different effects. At times they express mood which can either be dull or happy. Use of opposite color in a hue together brings out new effects that are different from the individual color effects. Thus, colors improve or reduce quality of an object. For example, the cool colors on the hue do exhibit large distances in real appearances. This is expressed mostly in sea and lakes.
  • Intensities- Expression of color is varied. Some can be dull, while others can be royal. Afterimage colors are mostly employed in animations. When one closes the eyes, the image that is seen afterwards is called the after image. It is mostly used in still life paintings.
  • Value -This explains the shades of colors. Some colors are dark while others are light. Different designers use color value to indicate spatial illusion. The contrast of color value separates and makes objects to appear solely in space. This can also be combined with color value gradation, this produces a three dimension objects as it exhibits contours.

Effects of color in various situations

Color as usual depicts different effects. These effects are varied from one culture to another. The way people embrace color in different cultures is very amazing. In certain communities black color shows grief, while in other communities, grief is exhibited by a white color.

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This at times has been noted to cause confusion. However, globalization has lead to familiarization of various practices. Some Colors though show similar function universally. For example, red color means danger worldwide. Red color also depicts love. On the other hand, pink color is associated with romance in most cultures.

Color Effects
Orange This is the color of fire. It is an affectionate color.
Yellow Color that shows brightness or a new dawn.
Blue This is a calm color which exhibits large distances.
Green This color suggests nature and the environment. At times may show decomposition of matter.
Violet This color suggests a merry status. At times used to show bad dreams

Figure. 1. Shows different colors and their implications

Comparison between Two Still Life Paintings, “Still Life with a Pie, Silver Ewer and Crab (1658), oil on Canvas” and “A Basket of Wild Strawberries (1760) oil on canvas”.

A still life is an art work that depicts mostly animated subject matter. They depict objects that stand together in a place. Objects used in still life painting vary; some are natural while others manmade. Still life paintings always demonstrate a parable or symbolism.

Willem Hade’s, “Still Life with Pie, Silver Ewer and Crab (1658), oil on Canvas” shows use of impressionism. This is the use of effect of color and light to produce shadings. The brownish background has been contrasted with white color on the table cloths. This shows a form of slight tonal variation that ends up in a harmonious theme color. The silvery cutleries exhibit a feeling of radiance on the other objects.

The light brown box like container together with the yellow color of the shell objects unites with the reflective silvery cutlery to enhance harmony. The white clothing has blocked the object or table that makes the painting work to seem as if it is on a two dimensional support such as wall. Thus, there is use of cubism in the still life painting.

Willem balances the tonal values on the objects. The front part though seems to be brighter than the back due to the white table cloths. This has resulted into the silvery container looking brighter against a dark background while the glass looks dark against its dark background.

The brown color depicts sadness but the orange complements it to bring out some strength in the whole painting. White too has stimulated the mood in the paint from dull to innocence. White color on the table clothes has neutralized the dullness. On the other hand, Jean-Sitméon Chardin’s, “A Basket of Wild Strawberries (1760) oil on canvas” shows the contrast of color visual components.

In this still life painting, the glass of water, the yellow fruit, and the white flowers are contrasting the brown background. While most of the colors in Held’s painting are dull, in Chardin’s painting, red has brought a sense of assertiveness. The perception of the artist in this painting can be analyzed without difficulty. The red color of the strawberries shows love or romance.

The white flowers have been included to bring a sense of wholesomeness or unfruitfulness. The berries appear bright on the dark background as well as the clear glass of water. To bring out a three dimensional painting, the artist has used line shades of brown color. Thus, the objects seem to be held on a table. This is in contrast to the other still life painting that appears to be hanging on wall.

In both paintings, complementary colors of the primary colors have been employed to show shading in the background. The variations between the color, tone and effects of light have been used by the artist to convey emotional responses to the viewer of the paintings. Both painters have employed the use of impressionist painting. This involves the use of color and ultimate light effect. It is only light that can make someone to perceive colors. Painting using this method is much interesting as artists use complementary colors of the actual colors to create shadows.

For example, to create a shadow of brown strokes or dashes of black are added to it using a brush to increase vitality. The use of limited shades of colors makes it possible to come up with objects such as baskets and fruits.

This has been depicted in Chardin’s still life painting. While in the other painting the use of contrasting colors had made it possible to make the silvery cutlery have the shinny surfaces. Mixing of different hues also makes it easy to have a three dimensional work without the use of a pencil and a ruler. A different shade of colors enables a painter to paint three- dimensional still life paint.


Colors are usually combined to convey harmony. For one to know which colors can be combined to produce harmony in a picture or a painting, one has to manipulate the colors on the hue circle. Artists always do not predetermine the outcome of their paintings.

Trials and practice is what they engage in and are always surprised with their own trial and error work. Colors are good to work with because they are what constitute living and non living things. Colors of the same chroma can me mixed to form complementary colors. The essence of light has to be involved because no color can be perceived without light.

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